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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Florin Hilbay’s descent from Bar top-notcher to national laughingstock

A bad case of cognitive bias: former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay
(Photo source: ABS-CBN)

University of the Philippines law professor and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has become the butt of jokes on social media. While I don’t follow him because, for one, I am not a fan and two, he has already blocked me on Twitter, some of his posts still find their way onto my timeline. I personally get a kick out of reading them. Sometimes they elicit a few laugh-out-louds for their silliness, but they are mostly head-scratchers.
Hilbay posts critical stuff about the current administration – his description of President Rodrigo Duterte and what his impression of what is transpiring in government. The problem is, Hilbay comes across as someone suffering from cognitive bias. People who suffer from cognitive bias like Hilbay have screwed up memories of the past. They are incapable of being objective because of their preference for a particular subject which, in Hilbay’s case, is his preference for the Liberal Party perspective. It could be because he owes BS Aquino for his past lucrative post in government. It was BS Aquino who gave him the role as Solicitor General. It was a role he only occupied for two years and a role that did not say much about him and his capabilities.
Here is an example of a post by Hilbay that exhibits his cognitive bias:
A competent government is marked by its ability to provide reasons for its actions, not excuses for inaction; explanations for its policies, not justifications based on blame; results that are concrete, not promises with indefinite timetable.
We want a government full of ideas, not people full of themselves
One can be forgiven for thinking that Hilbay kept all the things he wanted to say about the previous government to himself because he was too afraid to say them then when he was still reporting to BS Aquino and is only able to talk about them now. Because it is so bizarre of him to accuse the Duterte government of not providing reasons for its actions. What was Hilbay referring to anyway? Was he referring to Duterte’s war against ISIS-affiliated terrorists in Marawi City? Duterte’s announcement and decision to go to war was all over the news and he even met with the senators to give them the intelligence briefing from the military beforehand to help them understand the dire situation.
Or was Hibay talking about the war on drugs when he demanded an “explanation for its policy”? But Duterte made it very clear while he was still campaigning and even before he won the Presidency what he was planning to do to try and fix the drug problem in the country. Duterte did warn that his policy would be bloody. Just because Hilbay doesn’t agree with Duterte’s policy doesn’t mean the policy was not explained.
Hilbay should be reminded that it was BS Aquino who had a penchant for indulging in the blame-game. The former President spent his entire term blaming his predecessors, particularly former Presidents Gloria Arroyo who served as his political prisoner for 5 years and former Ferdinand Marcos even though he has been dead for more than 30 years. BS Aquino also blamed Arroyo for his own inaction. We recall that on his first year in office, he put a hold on government spending and also cancelled projects initiated by Arroyo out of spite. One of those cancelled projects was a Belgian dredging firm’s P18-billion flood-control venture, which was supposed to be the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project.
The cancellation resulted in the foreign firm Baagerwerken Decloedt En Zoon (BDZ) filing a case against the Philippine government to the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).  The ICSID eventually ruled that BS Aquino’s decision to cancel the project was illegal and unfair and ordered the Philippine government to pay 800 million pesos plus interest. BS Aquino’s action and inaction not only resulted in massive losses to public funds, but the country’s reputation suffered a massive blow as well for not following through on contracts and deals with foreign companies. BS Aquino’s government had a lot of bullshit ideas and a lot of people full of themselves, indeed.
It seems Hilbay had nothing to say about those shenanigans when he was still part of BS Aquino’s government but has a lot to say now that he is not in the limelight anymore. He probably misses the accolades and all the privileges accorded him when he was still a Solicitor General. He also seems bitter about not getting the role of Supreme Court judge. It was a good thing he is not a member of the Supreme Court because he doesn’t show impartiality and tends to demonstrate that he is so into partisan politics. He seems to hate President Duterte with a passion because he does not come across as rational in his posts against Duterte. In an apparent dig at President Rodrigo Duterte, this was what Hilbay had to say:
DICTATORSHIP is a monster that feeds on silence and thrives in darkness. It is afraid of the voice of dissent and the light of reason.
Hilbay is one of those folks who believes the Philippines is now under a dictatorship. But how is he able to posts critical stuff against Duterte if so? Why is he not in jail for dissenting? It’s a real shame he teaches these irrational views to his students at the country’s top school. Hilbay is actually the one afraid of “the voice of dissent and the light of reason” because he blocks anyone who has a different point of view. He seems to be too sensitive to criticism and is onion-skinned. He prefers to live in a bubble and only entertains people who agree with his own views. He is also full of himself because he keeps reminding people he topped the bar exam decades ago. As if topping the bar made him God’s gift to the Filipino people. As a matter of fact, he is becoming a national disgrace for his nonsensical views.
Hilbay is also very critical about the way Duterte is handling the Metro Rail Transit debacle and said that in 1 and 1/2 years that have passed, the MRT has gone from bad to worse. Hilbay completely ignores that fact that the current government has to honour contracts that were entered into by the previous government with the current maintenance provider. While it would be good to get rid of the company that does not deliver and replace them with one who can, it would be too dictatorial to simply remove them without due process and unrealistic to expect to find a company that fast that could handle such a complicated task.
Hilbay should understand that it takes time to fix the problems created by BS Aquino’s men like Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya. It was Abaya who entered into dodgy deals with the current maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI). I have yet to read posts from Hilbay criticising Abaya for awarding a contract to a company that did not even have a track record in the trade to prove they are up to the job of handling the maintenance of the MRT.
Hilbay is definitely an oddball. He is a typical yellow who cannot be reasoned with. No wonder a lot of people don’t take him seriously. What a waste.

About Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.